A number of years ago, I was asked to speak at a Retreat and the theme was “Preparing the Bride”. Below is part of the message I shared. It came back to my heart recently and I feel that it’s a current word for us.
When I was asked to speak for the retreat, I began by thinking about the words “Bride” and “Prepare”. I went online and tried to research how brides in other cultures prepare themselves for their wedding rituals to get some ideas. But all that I came up were advertisements for “How to have your wedding in the Riviera” and “How to afford a lavish wedding that your guests will remember forever” – as if anyone is going to remember your wedding as long as you will! I mean, I’ve been to some amazing weddings, and I certainly don’t remember every detail that I know the bride planned for months!
But the fact that I was haphazardly searching the web worked right into God’s plan as I stumbled upon the information that completely changed my view of myself as the Bride of Christ. I began to wonder what the Jewish wedding ceremony was like and as I Googled it, I discovered YouTube videos and articles by Orthodox rabbis outlining the ancient Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony. I have to tell you, I just sat there and cried as scripture after scripture flooded my head and I began to see my God and my Bridegroom in a whole new way. I was in awe when I realized that this beautiful ceremony that is over three thousand years old is a type and a shadow of the Lord’s passionate love for His Bride that began before the world was formed.
Do you know that Jesus is crazy about you? Do you really believe that He is so taken with you that He has made dramatic promises to care for you and provide for you, and do everything He can to nurture your love? And do you realize that your firm grasp on your identity as the Bride of Christ will either make or break your destiny? I am believing that when my message is complete, you are going to have a whole new perspective on Jesus as your perfect Bridegroom – whether you’re a man or a woman!
When you understand the pursuit, the provision and the passion of God for you as seen through the Jewish wedding ceremony, you are going to rise up in your identity as his Bride with authority and confidence as never before.
But before I tell you about the Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony, I have a story to share with you. You can find it in the book of Genesis chapter 24. The story is long, so I’m going to paraphrase it. But I suggest that you look it up and read through it yourselves tonight before you go to bed – and read it with new eyes. It is the story of how Abraham found a wife for his son, Isaac.
After the death of his wife Sarah, Abraham called his most trusted servant to him. In verse 3 he says, “I want you to get a wife for my son, Isaac. But swear to me that you will never let him marry one of these Canaanite women from around here. Go back to my family’s land and find Isaac a wife from among my people.”
The servant says, “But what if she won’t come back with me?”, to which Abraham replies, “If she absolutely won’t come back with you, you are released from your oath to me; but, no matter what, don’t let him marry one of these women!” (The Canaanites were people who worshiped their gods using sexual rituals in order to coax their gods into granting them fertility. They also offered children to their gods as sacrifices. You can see why Abraham was adamant that his son’s wife not come from this background of ungodly religious practices!)
So the servant loads up camels with all sorts of gold, jewelry and all kinds of wonderful gifts and sets off on his journey. When he gets to the town of Nahor, he has the camels kneel down beside the well outside of town. He knows that all of the young maidens will have to come to this well to get water, so he wants to be in the right place at the right time. While he is waiting, he kneels down as he has seen his master, Abraham do many times. He prays to his master’s God, the God of the heavens and of the Earth. He prays, “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring and the daughters of the townspeople are coming to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink’, that she will say, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels, too.’ Let her be the one You have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know it’s her.”
Eventually the girls come to the spring. Immediately, the servant sees this really beautiful girl so he asks his question. And you guessed it, it’s Rebekah and she answers exactly as the servant prayed she would. The servant reaches into his bag and takes out this enormous piece of gold jewelry and some bracelets and says, “ Do you think you would have room for my traveling party to stay with you and your family for the night?”
Rebekah replies, “For sure! And I’ll take care of all of you!”
Then she runs to tell her family what just happened and to show off her new jewelry. He big brother, Laban, comes dashing out to see who is making the moves on his kid sister.
At this point, the servant begins his matchmaking in earnest. He begins to describe how wealthy Abraham is and how his son, Isaac, is his only heir. He continues by telling the family how Abraham sent him to find a quality wife for Isaac and how handsome and wonderful Isaac is. He takes about 15 verses to give his sales pitch, repeating every step of his journey. The family then calls Rebekah into the room. They look at her and ask her, “This man wants to take you with him right now. Are you willing? Do you want to marry this man, Isaac?” And Rebekah says, “Yes.”
She packs up her make-up and her maid servants and leaves everything else behind to jump on a camel and travel to a foreign country to marry a man she has never met, but only heard about.
When the traveling party arrives on Abraham’s territory, Rebekah looks up and sees a handsome man in the distance. Her heart races. You can imagine what she’s thinking: “Please let this be him, please let this be him!” When she asks the servant, “Who is that man in the distance?” the servant replies, “That is my master, Isaac!”
Immediately, Rebekah does something I want you to note: she covers her face with her veil. Isaac approaches the band of travelers and when the servant tells him the whole story – again – Isaac brings Rebekah into his house and marries her. She becomes his wife and he loves her…a woman whom his father sent for from a distant land.
Next, I will tell you the some of the steps in the Jewish wedding ceremony and tie it all together with this story from Genesis and your story.
To be continued…
- Do you know that Jesus is crazy about you?
- Do you really believe that He is so taken with you that He has made dramatic promises to care for you and provide for you, and do everything He can to nurture your love?
- Do you realize that your firm grasp on your identity as the Bride of Christ will either make or break your destiny?
Sometimes, men have a hard time with the concept that they are part of the Bride of Christ and I can understand why! But as the Church, we are most definitely called the Bride of Christ. Below are just a few of the Scriptures that refer to believers as the Bride. If we don’t understand this very basic concept, we will forfeit through ignorance the position of love, provision and protection that Jesus came to restore us to. Please take the time to read the Scriptures below and let them begin to sink into your understanding. If you don’t understand what the Lord is saying in any of the words, just ask Him to reveal to you the truth embedded in each Scripture. All wisdom and knowledge and understanding come from Him and He is pleased to open up the secret things to us!
Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV /
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Revelation 19:7-9 ESV /
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Revelation 21:2 ESV /
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Isaiah 54:5 ESV /
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Ephesians 5:25 ESV /
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Revelation 21:9 ESV /
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV /
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
John 3:29 ESV /
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Revelation 21:9-11 ESV /
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.